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Enjoying God Blog


We need to give serious thought to our confession of God as Triune. You may not be aware of this, but there are some who profess to be orthodox evangelicals who deny the Trinity. They don’t simply lack knowledge of orthodox Trinitarianism. This isn’t a case of someone who simply confesses that they do not understand how there can be only one God who exists eternally as three co-equal persons. They hold to what has been called “Oneness” doctrine. They affirm, as we do, that there is only one God. But they deny that this one God exists eternally in three co-equal persons.

To put it simply, they argue that there is only one person in the Godhead and his name is Jesus. This one person manifests or reveals himself as the Father when he creates the world, as Son when he saves sinners, and as the Holy Spirit when he takes up residence in our lives and empowers us for holy living. But the key words here are “manifests” or “reveals.” There is a world of difference between saying that God manifests or reveals himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, on the one hand, and that God exists eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all of whom are equal in glory and power and deity.

Thus, “Father” and “Holy Spirit” are little more than names or titles that the one person of God, Jesus, makes use of to describe his activities and how he relates to mankind. In the ancient church this was known as Modalistic Monarchianism. The word “Monarchianism” refers to the singular and indivisible identity of God. There are not three distinct but co-equal persons in the Godhead but only one. The word “Modalistic” is used to describe how the one God, Jesus, manifests or reveals himself in different modes or expressions.

Be alert to their use of the words “revealed” and “manifestations.” The one person, Jesus, “reveals” or “manifests” himself under the names/modes of Father and Holy Spirit, but Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not distinct but co-equal and co-eternal persons within the unity of the Godhead.

Let me give you an example of two typical “oneness” statements of faith.

“There is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4). He is the creator of heaven and earth, and of all living beings. He has revealed Himself to humanity as the Father (Creator), in the son (Savior), and as the Holy Ghost (indwelling Spirit). [emphasis mine]

It took shedding of blood for the remission of the sins of the world (Hebrews 9:22), but God the Father was a Spirit and had no blood to shed. Thus He prepared a body of flesh and blood (Hebrews 10:5) and came to earth as a man in order to save us, . . .

The Holy Ghost is not a third person in the Godhead, but rather the Spirit of God (the Creator), the Spirit of the resurrected Christ.”

Note carefully that according to these statements the Father, Son, and Spirit are merely ways in which God “has revealed himself to humanity.” Father, Son, and Spirit are not three distinct, eternally existent and co-equal persons. And take special note of the statement that “God the Father . . . prepared a body of flesh and blood . . . and came to earth as a man in order to save us.” No! God the Father didn’t come as a man in human flesh. God the Son did. We see in Romans 8:3 that we were saved by God “sending his own Son.” This is simply another affirmation of the truth of John 3:16.

One of the most famous of all TV preachers, whose name most of you would easily recognize, stands in the “Oneness” tradition. On his church website, we read this statement:

“There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” [emphasis mine]

Modalism and Oneness theology are serious distortions of the nature of God and can easily lead into additional theological aberrations. But the Apostle Paul and all the other NT authors affirm repeatedly the personal distinction between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are one God, sharing a single divine nature, a single divine will, but three persons, each of whom loves and adores the others and works in perfect harmony with one another.



From my understanding modelism of the past was centered on The Father, or God, manifests himself like switching hats from the Father, then the Son, then the Holy Spirit.

But the modern oneness centers on Jesus, like you said. This is very hard to convince the error of because the counter argument is then “You don’t believe Jesus is God.” This theology actually causes idolatry of a false Jesus. How to contend for the faith when the language of most Christians who are not in error is “Jesus is God”, which is the same language of this false oneness doctrine.

This is why sound theology is so important to teach in from the pulpit, in Bible studies, and why language is important in worship and prayer meetings.

God is revealing Himself as 3 distinct Persons because that is Who He is eternally. It isn’t like He is one way outside of creation and changes who He is to reveal Himself to creation.

Thank you for addressing this.
Thank you for this. I would say that most Christians do not understand the serious implications of this belief. Those who are Oneness are outside of the Christian faith, not just another denomination as some presume.

Would you consider addressing the belief of baptism as necessary for salvation as in the church of Christ tradition?
Hi Sam, I grew up oneness pentescostal, and I'm glad to see you address this. I think there needs to be more disciussion about the modern take on modalism. Most theologians or apologists equate modern modalism with its ancient forms, but truthfully the modern take has it own unique errors.

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